Want To Build Your Own House? The Pros, Cons, and Costs

Building a brand-new home may sound like a dream come true. You get to choose the ideal layout for your family’s needs, and have a say in each and every design element. However, the process may also be daunting if you’ve never done it before.

To help you through it, we’ve created this Guide To Building Your Own Home. It will provide all the detailed information you need at each stage of the home-building process so that everything goes as smoothly as possible.

In this first article, we’ll offer a glimpse into the pros and cons of building a house, including how much it costs, how long it takes, how it’s financed, and much more that will help you decide if this option is right for you.

Pro: You can get exactly what you want

Building a home is a popular option these days. Construction on single-family homes was up 10% in November 2020 compared with the previous year, according to the National Association of Home Builders. And, it makes sense: When you build your own home, you get exactly what you want: an in-law suite for when the grandparents visit, a decked-out office for working from home, midcentury modern style, and more. Anything is possible.

“You get a blank slate,” says Marc Rousso, CEO of JayMarc Homes in Seattle. “The fun part about building a custom home is that it can be whatever you want.”

That might sound overwhelming, so Rousso suggests starting with a vision board. Check out websites like Houzz or Pinterest, and drive around snapping photos of homes you like. Then think through how big you want the home to be, how many bedrooms and bathrooms you need, and the bonus spaces you want to live as comfortably as possible.

The best way to make sure you get what you want (and that it fits within your budget): Hire a great builder from the start. This crucial step sets the best possible foundation (in every sense of the word) for your new home. Builders help you select others on your team (such as an architect, interior designer, and landscaper) and serve as your point person throughout the process.

Not sure how find a homebuilder? NAHB offers an online directory, and its members are committed to ongoing education and ethical standards. Hiring builders who have been in business for several years is also a plus, as they’ve proven they can weather both the highs and lows of economic cycles.

Pro: You can build just about anywhere you want

Have you always dreamed of living by the water or having a mountain view? Or maybe you want no neighbors in sight? Building a home lets you set up your residence just about anywhere you want.

Talk to your builder before making a land purchase, though, Rousso urges. The builder will need to do a feasibility study on the land to make sure it’s a suitable place for the home you want to build.

“We’ve talked more people out of buying land than into buying land, because there are so many pitfalls,” he explains.

Builders help make sure the land is zoned for residential development and identify any issues with building on the site, such as connecting to utilities or developing the land before building can start.

Another thing to note: Land development can be costly. HomeAdvisor estimates it to be $1.30 to $2 per square foot of land, including surveying, drainage plans, utility and septic mapping, permits, soil testing, land clearing, excavation, and demolishing any existing structures.

Pro: New homes typically come with less maintenance

An obvious advantage of building a home is that everything is brand-new. That means maintenance and repairs will be minimal or even nonexistent for a while, saving you plenty of headaches and thousands of dollars a year. According to HomeAdvisor, in 2020, homeowners spent an average of about $3,200 on home maintenance.

Nonetheless, a new house isn’t entirely maintenance-free. You’ll probably still need to do yardwork to keep up your newly installed landscaping. And you may want to pay for some preventive upkeep, such as a maintenance contract on your HVAC system, costing $150 to $500 a year. But that could save you money in the long run.

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Watch: How Much a Home Inspection Costs—and Why You Need One

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Con: Building usually costs more than buying an existing home

Building a house is an expensive enterprise, and typically costs more than buying a preexisting home. As such, you’ll need to have some in-depth discussions with your builder on what you want, and whether it’s affordable for you.

“A builder can help guide the design process starting with schematic design to give the prospective client an idea of the budget,” says Tim Benkowski, senior project manager at Balsitis Contracting in Lake Geneva, WI. “That way, design revisions can be made early without the owner falling in love with a home design only to find out they need to cut out their favorite parts or reduce the project scope.”

Several factors determine how much your newly constructed home will cost: location, size, complexity, and design elements.

The NAHB estimates that the median price of constructing a single-family home is $289,415, or $103 per square foot. Labor typically constitutes about 40% of the cost, followed by permits, design fees, and materials. Here’s more on how much it costs to build a house.

Con: Getting a construction loan can be complicated

To finance building a home, you’ll need a construction loan, which is a little more involved than getting a traditional mortgage to buy a preexisting house, says Steve Kaminski, head of residential lending at TD Bank.

For starters, you’ll likely need a 20% down payment since construction loans are considered higher-risk. Along with the usual financial documents needed for your loan application, you need to provide project plans, costs, and land value. You also need a signed contract or purchase contract with the project’s plans, specs, and budget details, and a timeline for the construction.

“The lender is not only evaluating the borrower, but also the project plans and oftentimes the builder to ensure they will be financially solvent throughout construction,” Kaminski explains.

Construction loans are usually shorter-term, covering just the duration of the build, and may have higher interest rates, usually about 1% higher than conventional mortgages, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Once the home is completed, you can pay off the balance or convert the loan to a conventional mortgage. The interest rate and the type and terms of the mortgage will depend on your credit history and lender.

When shopping around for a mortgage for a new home build, Kaminski urges borrowers to go with a lender experienced in working with construction loans.

Con: Building a home takes a while

Generally, it takes a bare minimum of three months to build a simple house, and it can take much longer. But it’s a “sliding scale,” says Benkowski. “A 2,500-square-foot and under [home] can typically be completed in seven to nine months with proper planning. A 7,500-square-foot home and up would likely take 12 to 30 months.”

Planning as much as you can will keep the project on track. Still, delays do happen. Weather is the biggest one, with temperature shifts and rain or snow postponing work. Your own choices could also be to blame. If you’re taking too long to choose your favorite flooring or windows, it could make it all take a little longer.

Here’s more on how long it takes to build a house.

In the next installments, we’ll cover how to buy land, design tips, the ins and outs of mortgages for home construction, and lots more.

Source: realtor.com

What the Flip? Portland Home Gets a Major Face-Lift and Gains $600K in Value

Flipping a house is a lot of work that can yield a big profit. But not every project is guaranteed to be lucrative. So what’s the key to successfully making over a fixer-upper and selling it for a gain? Our series “What the Flip?” presents before and after photos to identify the smart construction and design decisions that ultimately helped make the house desirable to buyers.

Known for friendly faces, eclectic locals, and beautiful scenery, Portland, OR, has been seen as a desirable place to put down roots for a while now. It was even rated the ninth best U.S. city to live in by U.S. News & World Report. All of those benefits, plus historically low real estate inventory, mean housing prices in Portland are high. But for flippers who can nab a fixer-upper with good bones, there’s plenty of potential for profit—as this example shows.

The flippers who took on this five-bedroom, five-bathroom house made a smart move by pouncing on the well-worn property for $875,000 when it was listed in June 2019. After a full-on renovation, they put the home up for sale, and in December 2020 it was sold for $1,475,000.

So how did they raise the home’s value by $600,000 in just a year and a half—and during a pandemic, no less? The booming market wasn’t the only thing that made this home sale such a success. The fresh renovations also had something to do with making this a must-have property.

Taking into account the home’s now-stylish interior design, we asked our team of experts to look at before and after photos and weigh in on the changes that made the biggest difference in this home. Here’s what they had to say.

Living room

Talk about major changes! Once full of dark, drab wallpaper and a dated, textured ceiling, the living room now has a brighter, cleaner look.

“The application of white paint on everything really works well in this room,” says designer, real estate agent, and house-flipping investor Laura Schlicht. “Two of this house’s biggest assets have been artfully played up: the architectural moldings and the fantastic view.”

“It was a great move to get rid of the extra door on the side of the fireplace,” adds real estate investor and agent Molly Gallagher, of Falk Ruvin Gallagher. “There are plenty of other ways in and out of the room, and it allowed them to widen the hearth and keep the green-tiled theme going.”

Kitchen

The old kitchen was spacious, but that’s about all it had going for it. Once the flippers worked their magic, they had a kitchen that would impress any prospective buyer.

“Removing a section of the wall between the dining room and kitchen brings much more light into the kitchen, bouncing off the bright white cabinets, rather than keeping the view for the dining room itself,” says Kate Ziegler, real estate investor and real estate agent.

She adds that her top question from buyers touring homes is whether or not they can remove a wall.

“Having done this update for the buyers broadens the audience for this home, and boosts sale price as a result,” says Ziegler.

Real estate investor and agent Tracie Setliff, also with Falk Ruvin Gallagher, was impressed with the island addition.

“The island placement is perfect—it seems like it was always there and makes up for some of the storage lost by opening up the wall,” she adds.

“We love that they nod to the original lights and time period of the home with the updated light fixtures they chose,” adds Gallagher. “And they smartly chose to appeal to a wide buyer pool by not adding in some specific tile that will be dated in five years.”

Home office

Before 2020, a home office was just a bonus, but now it’s essential—whether it’s for work or school, or both. Even though this renovation was started before the coronavirus pandemic, the flippers chose to upgrade this home office in a major way, which really paid off by the time they listed the home.

“I love that they removed the old attached bookshelf,” says Setliff. “The room has an airier feel to it without the hulk of the built-in shelving. There are so many cute bookshelves that are much sleeker.”

Schlicht agreed, explaining that the built-in bookcase, while often a bonus, was actually the wrong size for the space and made the room feel crowded.

“Let’s take a moment to notice the windows,” says Ziegler. “New windows are a significant cost that most new buyers don’t want to take on in the near term—but the payback in efficiency can be remarkable. Replacing windows as part of a flip makes the whole space look more contemporary and polished, but also adds real value to the home that buyers can quantify.”

Dining room

At first glance, it may seem like the only real change in the dining room was a new coat of white paint, but Ziegler says that’s not the case. In fact, she was rather impressed with the flippers’ efforts in this room.

“The dining room demonstrates places where the investors behind this work took the time to restore and retain older details: keeping the built-in sideboard, and even the mirror detail below the smaller window shows a thoughtful approach and is indicative of more time-intensive work,” Ziegler says.

“Restoring details rather than replacing with cheaper, contemporary alternatives requires patience and care, and that attention to detail is something buyers notice even if they don’t have the vocabulary to describe it,” she adds. “The updated chandelier is trendy but also a nod to midcentury modern styling that is appropriate for a house of this age.”

Setliff is happy to see the “boring” light fixture go, in favor of the new “sophisticated, sculpturelike light.”

“Buyers do not want to have to change fixtures, as simple as it seems, and keeping it fun yet unfussy was the way to go,” she says. “It is interesting how you notice the views from the windows now that your eye isn’t drawn to the dark brown of the built-in cabinets and window trim.”

Den

This old den went from afterthought to amazing after this flip, and our experts are impressed with the results.

“Goodbye, ’60s; hello, now!” says Gallagher. “Knotty pine is best reserved for Wisconsin supper clubs these days, and today’s buyers are not interested in having a supper club theme for their den.”

“Removing drop ceilings and wood paneling is an easy, instant update, but the nicer detail here is the addition of recessed lighting,” says Ziegler. “Recessed lighting in a basement space creates the illusion of more headroom, making for a much more comfortable den. Updating the basement den adds valuable square footage that buyers might have otherwise written off as just basement space.”

And we can’t forget about the star of this room: the fireplace.

“Replacing the dated brick with a pop of green tile and the white surround and mantel transform this new den,” says Setliff.

Source: realtor.com

After Its High-Retro Renovation, This Marvelous Midcentury in Austin Is a Jewel Box of Color>

It isn’t common for a buyer to renovate a home and embrace a truly retro vibe, but that’s exactly what the owners of one midcentury modern residence in Austin, TX, did.

The 7,000-square-foot Atomic Age classic, built in 1963 on Balcones Drive, is now on the market for $3.95 million. Its color palette is right out of the TV series “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”

“The owners bought it in 2017. The home had been updated in the 1970s and ’80s, and a lot of the original things were torn out, so the owners actually went by the original pencil blueprints and restored it,” explains the listing agent, Rebecca Wolfe Spratlin.

The architect Charles Granger of the popular Austin firm Fehr & Granger originally designed the space for Dr. Byron Smith and his wife, Irene, in 1963.

Granger is known for his designs of a number of buildings in the Austin area, including the iconic blue airport control tower for Austin’s former airport. The tower still stands as part of a new residential and commercial development on the old airport land.

Irene Smith was a real estate agent in Austin for over 50 years, Wolfe Spratlin says, and came by to a broker’s open house at the property recently.

“She and her husband are still living in the area,” she adds, “so she was able to come in and walk through the entire house. It was so fun to talk to her about her memories.”

Exterior of home in Austin, TX
Exterior of home in Austin, TX

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Robert Mueller Municipal Airport Tower
Robert Mueller Municipal Airport Tower

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The current owners are the fifth family to call the place home, and they’ve dubbed it Sky Crest. The name is an homage to the distinctive airport control designed by Granger, as well as to the color scheme of the house.

The house, true to midcentury form, has clean lines and a wealth of windows

“The whole house in the front is glass, just walls of glass,” Wolfe Spratlin explains. “It’s got natural light just pouring in.”

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A fence and gate surround the house. The true glory of the home is only visible once you’re inside the gate.

“You punch in the code, and the gate opens, and you see this amazing light-blue kind of light turquoise house. It’s very long and expansive,” Wolfe Spratlin says.

Up the front steps, you enter the house on the second level.

“The ceilings are vaulted, and there’s a wooden screen that was recreated according to the original blueprints,” the agent adds.

That wood screen, most of the light fixtures, and other furnishings were custom-created for the house’s wide-open floor plan.

“There’s a Sputnik light fixture right as you come in. Then, on the staircase, they had a custom-made light that’s very retro and appropriate for the setting,” Wolfe Spratlin says.

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Bedroom kitchenette
Bedroom kitchenette

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In keeping with the vibe, the kitchen is straight out of the early 1960s. However, all the appliances are new and from Big Chill, with retro styling.

The laminate countertops had to be imported from Italy to match the color, because the owners couldn’t find the right shade of vibrant turquoise in the United States, Wolfe Spratlin explains.

The retro vibes continue in the pink kitchenette in the master bedroom. The master bedroom is on the main floor and has another interesting feature—a night bathroom.

Because the master bedroom is so big, and the master bathroom is at the very opposite end of the bedroom, a small powder room was located close to the bed, Wolfe Spratlin explains.

What’s more, for those who have to get up in the middle of the night, this little room has a heated floor and heated toilet seat.

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Night bathroom

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Master bathroom

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There’s another bedroom on the main level, and three more bedrooms on the lower level. The bottom level features a game room and a home theater.

For the utmost in convenience, a snack bar in the hallway right outside the theater is served by a dumbwaiter that comes down from the main kitchen.

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Home theater

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Pool
Pool

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Outside, by the pool, the outdoor kitchen is covered by turquoise sails, perfect for enjoying and entertaining.

“The perfect buyer to me is somebody who just really gets it—and not only gets it, but loves it,” Wolfe Spratlin says. “So you need to have somebody that gets it, loves it, and understands the value of its design.”

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Source: realtor.com

Midcentury Modern Design Truly Soars at Portland’s Boomerang House>

A midcentury modern home in the Pacific Northwest that pays homage to Frank Lloyd Wright is ready to swoop into the hands of a new owner.

Known as the Boomerang House, thanks to its unique shape, the home on Skyline Boulevard in Portland, OR, has skimmed onto the market for just under $1.8 million.

“It’s hard to see it necessarily when you’re inside the house, but if you’re looking at it from an aerial point of view, you can totally see that it’s shaped like a boomerang,” explains the listing agent, Mark Bisaccio.

The home was built in 1947, and was completely renovated by the current owners in the past few years. Bisaccio estimates that the owners spent about $700,000 on renovations.

Big changes include the removal of a wall between the kitchen and the living space, the addition of a garage, and the creation of a breezeway between the garage and the home.

“Everybody that sets foot in this house says they absolutely love it,” says Bisaccio. “Nobody walks into this house and says, ‘It’s OK.’ It gets great reactions from everybody.”

Exterior of home in Portland, OR
Exterior of home in Portland, OR

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Exterior

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Aerial view

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Interior

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The home’s huge windows and overall aesthetic are reminiscent of the Wright’s style, and some architecture historians have tried to connect this design directly to the iconic architect. However, no definitive proof connects Wright to the home.

The house was built for the movie actress Margaretta Ramsey—known for starring in in “Mannix,” “Dinah East,” and “Riot on Sunset Strip” in the 1960s and 1970s. There were reports that FLW was friends with Ramsey’s husband, Walter.

The agent says he can see why Wright fans would love to attribute to the master this home that embraces its natural surroundings.

Watch: Illuminating Amenity: Historic Home Features a Real Lighthouse

“It’s just very clearly aimed after his style. It’s got floor-to-ceiling windows that look on to an amazing yard, so you feel like you’re in the forest,” Bisaccio explains. “People initially are drawn to all the windows. There is so much natural light.”

The home, on almost a half-acre, measures 3,693 square feet.

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Land

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Kitchen
Kitchen

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Kitchen and dining areas
Kitchen and dining areas

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Kitchen and dining areas
Kitchen and dining areas

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The kitchen is sleek and features high-end appliances with an island and a separate dining area. It opens on to a porch with plenty of room for outdoor living.

Wine room
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Lower level

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Stairs

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Downstairs, on the lower level, a climate-controlled wine room can store 650 bottles.

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Master bedroom
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The house has a total of four bedrooms and three bathrooms, but it’s possible that the current layout won’t work for every buyer.

“There are two bedrooms on the main level and two bedrooms down below,” Bisaccio explains.

He said the upstairs-downstairs dynamic is the reason the current owners are selling what they thought would be their forever home.

“They were recently surprised with twins,” he says. “With three kids, it’s hard to split them and put them up and down.”

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Breezeway

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Breezeway
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Bisaccio says buyers could easily snag a traditional home with more square footage for a similar price in the Portland metro.

However, the Boomerang House is not likely to appeal to that type of buyer.

“The perfect buyer for this house is somebody who appreciates and respects design and architecture, especially midcentury modern architecture,” says Bisaccio.

“It appeals to everybody, but it’s just a matter of who can practically live here,” he says. “People that are creative minded, design-oriented … are just going to go nuts over this thing. And they do.”

Breezeway
Breezeway

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Outdoor space
Outdoor space

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  • For more photos and details, check out the full listing.
  • Homes for sale in Portland, OR
  • Learn more about Portland, OR

Source: realtor.com